The police chief of Afghanistan’s southern Helmand Province survived a suicide car bomb attack on his convoy yesterday that wounded three officers, officials said.
Police Chief Mohammad Nabi Elham sustained only minor injuries when the bomber struck as he was on his way to work at about 7am.
Broken glass and the charred remains of the bomber’s car were strewn in a main road in the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah after the attack. The force of the blast tore off the door of Elham’s vehicle. Three police officers traveling in the convoy were wounded, provincial spokesman Ummar Zawaq said.
“Thanks be to God that it was so early in the morning,” Elham said later in an interview. “If it had been 8 or 9 in the morning, there would have been laborers here who are building a road for a mosque. Shopkeepers would have been here and [who knows] how many people might have been killed?”
The attack comes in a period of intense violence, with the Taliban targeting police and civilian officials and attacking government positions around the country as Afghan police and army prepare to officially take over full responsibility for security from international troops.
Last month alone, at least 271 police were killed in attacks and total deaths for all security forces — including the Afghan army and community-based forces known as the local police — was 400.
At the same time, casualties among the US-led military coalition have been falling as the international forces pull back to let the Afghans take the lead. Last month, 21 NATO troops were killed in the country, down from 44 in the same month last year.
The coalition said that one of its service members died in a non-battle-related incident in southern Afghanistan on Sunday, but released no further details. The death brings this month’s toll for international troops to 20.
Insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns into a convoy carrying goods to Kabul yesterday, killing three drivers and wounding two others, an official said.
Two of the container trucks caught fire and burned from the grenade blasts at about 2:30am on the main highway about 60km east of Kabul in Langhman Province, said Sarhadi Zwak, spokesman for the Laghman Provincial Government.
It was unclear if the trucks were carrying supplies for the coalition or commercial goods, Zwak said, but he added that no international vehicles were in the convoy. He said the drivers were Afghan.